This morning, the Lord provided me with a great opportunity. An opportunity my sweet friend Amanda reminded me about two months ago. An opportunity to wake up early, lace up my tennis shoes, and head towards a starting line, waiting for a bell to sound the start at 7:30 am. Maybe not an opportunity that sounds “great” to you, but for me, I could hardly sleep last night. You see, while my body stays in motion, I tend to hear so clearly from Him, tend to feel so close to Him, tend to pay attention and keep my eyes open for Him, that my anticipation was sky high.
We began the day with a ride from Mr. Dave and his fabulous new truck (aka, Amanda’s husband). He dropped us off because this race started at one point, and finished 13.1 miles down Riverside Dr. We had a day to run along the river with several elite athletes from different countries (not that we saw them past the starting line :), with the sun shining, and the course mostly downhill (bonus!) I, however, had one new item with me today…kleenex (borrowed from a very gracious Grandma before we started). Yep, last week I came down with a nasty sinus infection/allergy attack and needed to clear the “breathing-path” along the way. Ever try blowing your nose while running? Be prepared for a mess. Enough said. My mind couldn’t help but think this morning of Misty May as I watched her battle a cold in an earlier match of the Olympics. I recall an announcer saying that many athletes attest to the fact that they play better “under the weather”. This is the philosophy I wanted to adopt today.
We started the race 1/2 hour later than anticipated (due to late shuttle buses), but you’ll have that in an inaugural first try. It actually gave us a chance to learn about some of the top athletes through the announcer, and to “bond” with the crowd around us pre-race – so many stories, so many amazing people. Ready, set, go – and we’re off. Thanks to Amanda’s pre-run drive and her magic watch, we were able to track our pace as we ran those first few miles. Actually, we were thrilled with our pace, able to keep on track even as we ran straight for the entire time.
About mile 8, I started to notice how my body was reacting to the distance, and sadly recognized I needed to walk through the next water station, so I encouraged Amanda to go ahead and run her race. As I began to run again, my body was needing a different pace this time… okay. I had 5 more to go, what to do? My mind ran straight to him. After waking this morning, I was drawn to reread again from Philippians 3, starting from verse 12.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
These verses are ones in which I’ve put to memory, yet there is something about opening the Book and letting my eyes fall upon the words. I felt the Lord impress the words on me again – press on – just take that next step. He brought back to my mind some memories of training runs we traveled through together in preparation for today. He simply reminded me that my “race” on earth is not simply to the next “finish line”, but actually until I draw my last breath. He splashed his encouragement all over me and around, just as with a physical sponge he provided, water splashed as I squeezed it over my head (pretty cool!) He even opened my eyes and provided companions along the way. A tall man with a red shirt caught my eye, and as I approached, we began to chat. Turns out we both grew up in the same area of Cleveland. Next thing I knew, a lady next to me joined in, a mom of teenagers, excited just to be a part of this race. Funny how those 2 miles flew by. I saw him in the faces of the many volunteers, I felt him prompting as I spoke with fellow runners, I felt his strength as he provided the endurance to continue. I’m so thankful.
My heart is just filled with thanks. Thanks, at that moment, to see the finish line and simply be able to cross it. Thanks for my amazing husband who was waiting with our three blessings to greet me. I knew in my head that I just finished running, but nothing could stop be from picking up my girls and giving them a squeeze. Thanks to Mr. Dave who hooked us up with a post-run massage – my muscles today were forever grateful. Thanks for the beautiful weather. Thanks for water. But mostly, I’m simply thankful for my Jesus, the living water, who pours forth his patience, grace, and mercy upon me daily. And not only for me, but for all those ready to receive.
Finally, I’d just like to lift up my prayers for all those in the path of Gustav. Amanda has family in New Orleans. Many have parents, siblings, grandparents, and children living there. May the Lord be glorified in all that takes place. May lives be changed in Him.